Mrs Wradisley's eldest son and daughter (Reginald and Lucy) live at home, and she is now pleased to have her somewhat rough son Ralph return after many years in faraway places. Ralph has brought with him his friend Mr Bertram. Lucy is anxious for the newcomers to meet her dear friend Mrs Nugent and her daughter Tiny, but this is postponed.
While Lucy wonders if Mr Bertram might be "the one", the cold, fastidious Reginald harbours his own secret - that he is enraptured with the rather mysterious Mrs Nugent. At last the day arrives for Mrs Wradisley's end-of-season garden party - a day which will bring several surprises, as various secrets are revealed.